Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Underhell Gameplay (First-Person Shooter Half-Life 2 Mod) Video

My Underhell review now has a gameplay video. Click here.

Links to other freeware first-person shooters after the jump.

>>>Links to other free PC FPS HERE

>>>Click here to

Friday, April 22, 2011

One of the Best Free Half-Life 2 (FPS) Mods: Underhell: Prologue

[UPDATED: Now has a gameplay video. Click HERE.]

I tried out Underhell: Prologue (hereafter known simply as "Underhell"), a Half-Life 2 mod that promises a horror-tinged first-person shooter gameplay experience on the PC. While what I went through was not exactly what I was expecting from this free PC FPS, this is one of those free PC shooter games that you should definitely try out.

The full review after the jump.

Underhell is, oddly enough, two PC games in one --- the main game where you run around gunning down terrorists in traditional first-person shooter fashion and an RPG-ish aspect where you go around this house collecting keys and clues in an effort to uncover memories that the protagonist has buried deep in his subconscious. While my main complaint about this PC mod is the almost non-existent connection between the two aspects, each is definitely riveting.

First and foremost, Underhell---like the PC game it modifies---is a first-person shooter (FPS) game. In it, you play as Jake Hawkfield, a SWAT operative who just lost his wife. The game begins when terrorists attack a nearby hospital and Jake's unit is called in to storm the edifice.

In terms of immersion, Underhell really delivers --- the mod's graphics is decent and the terrorists' death animations are convincing. Blood splatters on walls, smoke billows out every time something explodes, and plaster and chunks of concrete fall off from pillars that are under a hail of gunfire. The developer also included the awesome ability to kick objects and your opponents.

I think the developers borrowed models and sound files from several PC games as the terrorists remind me of Counter-Strike: Source. There are also sound clips that remind me strongly of Splinter Cell and Far Cry. These do not detract from the overall experience though as borrowed assets are not uncommon in free PC mods.

>>>This site reviews free, legal-to-download PC first-person shooters (FPS). See more of them HERE.

The game also resembles F.E.A.R. What with the parking lot level's prevalent blue-green hues, the ramps, and the chunks of flying concrete, I couldn't help but be reminded of Monolith's award-winning PC shooter game. Whether or not it is intentional, I have no complaints about this parallelism; though it may resemble F.E.A.R., it does so without feeling like a rip-off. Anyway, this is immaterial; with so many games coming out, drawing parallels among them is unavoidable.

"[I'd open the gate myself but] I think I need a specialist for this one."

Even with all these high points, Underhell wouldn't be mistaken for a retail game. While the textures are good, they'd be heavily criticized if they appeared in a modern retail PC game --- there are some parts (especially in the shopping mall) where walls appear too flat. Also characters in the game tend to be too dark; in areas with dim lighting, hostages and fellow operatives look like moving masses of pure black with no signs of gradients whatsoever. (Turning up the gamma levels didn't help, the environment ended up looking heavily desaturated.)

>>>This website has a Facebook page. It contains more Underhell pictures. Click HERE.

The audio is superb. While the shotgun uses the vanilla Half-Life 2 sound clip, the SMG is very satisfying to fire. It sounds like something I would expect from a real submachine gun. Then there's the background music. This free first-person shooter has an original soundtrack. A musician by the name of Tom Stoffel created the OST, which really immerses you in the action. The only low points were two
saxophone-heavy tracks that reminded me of the B-movies of the 80s. Aside from that I have no complaints about the excellent scores. (This falls in the realm of the subjective really; I just don't like sax-heavy music in my action films or games.)

"The House" phase of the game is something of an oddball for me. I installed Underhell thinking that it's a PC horror-action hybrid, but it turns out that the developer separated the "horror" and the "action" bits. "The House" phase of the game delivers the former in spades. In it, you uncover clues to the death of your wife. It also has these dream segments where you delve into your subconscious and unearth the past. Due to its relatively short length, divulging more details here would ruin the experience so suffice to say, I ended up grumbling "Oh dear God, I didn't know there were Amnesia: The Dark Descent bits in this one!!" And it is similar to that PC horror game --- you go around interacting with objects (sans the slide-the-drawers-out-with-your-mouse physics) and go traipsing into VERY dark places.

Warning: The above gameplay video has spoilers!

The major complaint I have against this freeware first-person shooter mod is the almost nonexistent connection between the two major segments of the game. You could play the shooter aspect without ever completing "The House" segment. This is a bit distracting for me as I found I could go back to the house even after I finished the shooter segment. (The discovery is surreal given that by the game's end, your character will be in another locale entirely.) It would also have helped if the developer placed the game's "tutorial button" (the blackboard) on a more accessible place. I ended up learning about the melee attack midway into the game.

Still taking all these into consideration---superb audio, satisfying shooter action, disturbing horror segments---Underhell is one mod you should try out.

>>>Get Underhell: Prologue HERE.

Review of other freeware games can be found under "Categories" on the upper right.

>>>Click here to

Downloadable Free Full RPG Game: Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall (Skyrim Prequel) Mod

A ModDB member, LuciusDXL, has started making a mod for the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim prequel Daggerfall. Titled "DaggerXL," the mod aims to port the game to the Windows environment. It will:

"fully emulate the game of Daggerfall and then optionally enhance it by refining existing features and adding new gameplay elements that were originally intended. The game will make use of hardware acceleration providing higher resolutions, color depth, greatly improved visibility, better texture filtering, enhanced performance and more. "

While the the mod is still in development (the developer is planning to release v0.20 in the next few days at the time this was written), you can download the full version of the freeware Elder Scrolls role-playing game from the Daggerfall official site.

The links to the game and the modification webpage after the jump.

It's shaping up quite nicely.

>>> Download the free full RPG game HERE.

>>>The freeware PC RPG mod's ModDB page

>>>Click here to

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mass Effect 2 (Dragon Age 2 Freebie) the Game Download -- "Game Cannot Launch" Error

So a friend of mine gave his copy of the PC game Mass Effect 2. (He already bought the PC game when the Dragon Age 2 promo hit the Internet.) I immediately claimed the free Mass Effect 2 download from the Mass Effect 2 site. A night later, I ran into a Mass Effect 2 launch problem.

"Game cannot launch because of a misconfiguration. Please reinstall your game and try again," Windows complained. I groaned. I surfed for a solution and found several forums where people were complaining about their Dragon Age 2 freebie. I found the fix.

Picture taken from the official Mass Effect 2 site

The solution after the jump.

[Note: Your problem might have a more simple solution. Please refer to my "EA Games Not Launching After Origin Update" article and check the solution there. If trying that doesn't crack it for you, navigate back here and try the fixes below.]

Your Mass Effect 2 launch problem, in all probability, might be the result of the following:

1. You have configured the EA Download Manager---Origin---(or Steam) to install games in a directory you have specified (not the default one).

In this case, go to the Mass Effect 2/Binaries folder and find a file labeled "EACore_App.ini." Open it with Notepad. See if the paths specified there follow the correct directory path that you have specified.

Picture taken from the official Mass Effect 2 site

2. The game is being blocked by your Operating System's firewall.

In this case go once again to the Mass Effect 2/Binaries folder and find a file labeled "eacoreserver." Double click on that. A window should pop up asking you if would like to unblock or keep blocking the game. Click Unblock.

This should fix your Mass Effect 2 launch problems. If the above solutions do not work, please consult the Mass Effect 2 site forums.

Credit: I first read about this fix for the "Game cannot launch because of a misconfiguration. Please reinstall your game and try again" problem from DrPlote, a Mass Effect 2 site forum member.

>>>Click here to

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Free Classed-Based PC Shooter Global Agenda's "No Elves" Ad Campaign

I found this series hilarious.

>>>More freeware PC third- and first-person shooters (FPS) HERE

These beat another PC shooter's aggressive ad campaign by nearly a year.

The link to the downloadable free PC shooter after the jump.

>>>Don't like PC shooters? Freeware strategy games HERE. Freeware RPGs HERE.

>>>The freeware PC classed-based third-person shooter Global Agenda's official site

>>>Click here to

Friday, April 15, 2011

Freeware Classed-Based PC Third-Person Shooter Global Agenda

Yep, you read that one right. This just in: Hi-Rez Studios has released their classed-based third-person MMO shooter Global Agenda as freeware. The PC MMO shooter game is now free to play and while the restrictions placed on the free2play players are a bit on the heavy side, they are not by any means game-breaking.

So far these are the only things that I find to be potentially disruptive:

  • Access the Auction House
  • Access In-Game Mail
  • Less restrictive chat capabilities
  • No ads for in-game voice
  • Ability to create Agencies

MMO players availing of the free to play option can still participate in PvPs (Player vs Player) and PVEs (Player vs Environment) sessions.

I think he just tased me bro!! (Image taken from the Global Agenda official site; link shown below)

>>>More freeware PC third- and first-person shooters (FPS) HERE

The full list of the free to play restrictions and the download link of the freeware PC classed-based third-person shooter game after the jump.

From the freeware PC shooter's wiki page:

Free to play

* No Level Restriction
* Ability to earn all of the game’s current items without spending real money.
* Access to all of the game’s current playable content, including:
o Sonoran Desert Open Zone
o Special Ops PvE (1- to 4-person Co-Op)
o 10v10 Mercenary PvP
o 4v4 Arena PvP
o Double Agent PvPE
o 10-person Defense Raids (including the new Dome Defense Mission coming in version 1.4).
o Agency vs Agency Gameplay (AvA)

(Image taken from the Global Agenda official site; link shown below)

Elite Agent - One-time purchase of $19.99 (£13.99 GBP, €15.99 EUR)
* Earn End-of-Mission XP at twice the rate of a Free-to-Play user
* Earn End-of-Mission Credits and Tokens at twice the rate of a Free-Play user
* Earn End-of-Mission Elite Loot upon winning an instanced PvE or PvP match
* Choose which PvP game types you would like to play when queuing for Mercenary PvP.
* Access the Auction House
* Access In-Game Mail
* Less restrictive chat capabilities
* No ads for in-game voice
* Ability to create Agencies
* Higher Login priority

>>>The freeware PC classed-based third-person shooter Global Agenda's official site

>>>Don't like PC shooters? Freeware strategy games HERE. Freeware RPGs HERE.

>>>Click here to

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Defense Grid: The Awakening: Two Free Tower Defense (TD) Maps

The most recent (April 14) patch release by Hidden Path Entertainment adds two new maps for their critically-acclaimed PC tower defense game (TD), Defense Grid: The Awakening. One is Portal themed and---get this!---features GLaDOS (well just her voice anyway) while the other has got something to do with this whole PC games bundle that's being featured on Steam.

I don't get this whole potato thing.

That's GLaDOS talking right there.

And who the hell is Tony?

Anyway, the patch changelog and links to pictures of the new free PC tower defense maps after the jump.

Defense Grid April 2011 Portal 2 ARG Updates:

  • Two free new and original Defense Grid Levels with new voice acting and story.
  • Portal's GLaDOS invades the network and brings a new style of level design to Defense Grid.
  • New computer console off the main menu. Poke around in the old computer archives, try out puzzles, and learn some DG back-story.
  • Tesla towers now recharge faster and do more damage.

April 13 update:

  • CHAS level is now unlocked for everyone!
  • Recruiting is still important, so keep it up.
  • Tony has one more trick up his sleeve
  • Three more clues to find

>>>See reviews of more free PC games (legitimate to download full version games) HERE, HERE, and HERE (free PC FPS games, free strategy games, and free RPG games respectively)

>>>Defense Grid: The Awakening gallery HERE

>>>Click here to

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Freeware PC First-Person Shooter (FPS) Mod Black Mesa: Source Xen Picture Surfaces

I am not really sure about this but Black Mesa: Source forum member Rx33gundam posted several screenshots of the project.

[UPDATE: this from Raminator, one of the devs/forum admins:

It's not actual media or a hoax. It was a texture test that Abe did on his own, we're not using any of those assets in Black Mesa. Our art direction for Xen is drastically different.

While it's not actually going to be used, it's still from one of the developers. Here's hoping they finish it.]

What is Black Mesa: Source? Why should I care? The rundown after the jump.

>>>Information about the freeware PC First-Person Shooter (FPS) mod Black Mesa: Source HERE

>>>See my "Let's Play Black Mesa Source HD" YouTube series HERE. 

>>>Want Black Mesa graphics, audio, and performance tweaks? Click HERE. 

>>>Click here to

Freeware Real-Time Strategy (RTS) Game Battletech - MechCommander Gold Resources

I just learned from Alexgophermix that he's hosting a Mechcommander resource page. Fans of the PC incarnations of Fasa's tabletop turn-based mech game should have a blast poring over his Mechcommander page. Contents include save files for the freeware Real-Time Strategy (RTS) Battletech game, allowing players to skip to the missions they like; a list of Inner Sphere mecha; how to install the freeware PC game in serveral PC operating systems (Linux and Windows 7 and Windows Vista); and map editor tutorials.

>>>See my review of the freeware Real-Time Strategy (RTS) Battletech game MechCommander Gold HERE

The link to the page after the jump.

>>>Freeware Real-Time Strategy (RTS) Game Battletech - MechCommander Gold Resource Page

>>>Click here to

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nvidia 270.51 Video Card Graphic Driver Benchmark Software Results

Tested out Nvidia's 270.51 video card graphic driver.

Image quality (IQ) improvements in PC games---both strategy and shooter--- are nothing to write home about. Performance also took a hit with my video card graphic driver benchmark software results showing smaller figures.

The Nvidia 270.51 video card graphic driver benchmark software results after the jump.

(Some things to note with this Nvidia video card graphic driver test run: 1. I started using the freeware X3: Terran Conflict benchmark demo 2. Lightsmark 2008 conked out; I need to reinstall the video card benchmark software 3. Since logging in to Steam takes a minute on my PC, I decided not to use it anymore. Moreover, this will be the last time I'm going to use Lost Planet as a video card driver benchmark test, as it shows the same figures every time.)

>>>The Nvidia 270.51 video card graphic driver benchmark software results HERE

>>>Click here to